Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Spotlight on: The Moonflower Vine

It is in the heat of summer that The Moonflower Vine begins. Youngest daughter of the Soames, Mary Jo, describes the annual pilgrimage to her parent's farm in Missouri where she and her sisters converge on their elderly parents for a 'vacation' that is part obligation, part reunion. These adult daughters allow themselves to be parented as they help out with what seems like a primitive farm. Everyone seems to resist intrusion on this short time together, yet social obligation intrudes. We see what appears to be a happy family, led by God-fearing father Matthew and thick-skinned and hardworking mother Callie. We see what looks like an ordinary family gathering, with openness and good-will all around. We wonder what author Jetta Carlson could possibly have to say about this ordinary seeming group of people for 300 or so pages.

And then.

The story changes from first person to third as each member of the family is revealed to us, one by one, from Matthew, to Callie, sandwiching their daughters, including one who is deceased. Suddenly our preconceived notions are shattered. What looked like one thing is shown to be very much another as the inner lives of these characters are revealed, showcasing most prominently their romantic lives.

This is heady stuff, let me tell you. I was a little bit shocked (and disgusted by one of the characters) in 2009, think what original readers of this novel thought in 1962! I was taken in by the tagline of this book:

A Timeless American Classics Rediscovered - An Unforgettable Saga of a Heartland Family

Saga? Rediscovered classic? Count me in.

I began this book knowing only what the back cover said. Didn't read the introduction, nor the 'extras' in the back. Didn't read any spoiler-y reviews. Thus, I think that is how this book is best approached, though of course now you know more than I did!

In any case, I do recommend The Moonflower Vine: A Novel (P.S.). For the surprising turns it takes and for the gorgeous cover you can gaze at on your nightstand.


Staci said...

I want to read it just so I can see what you were so disgusted about!!Sounds like a pageturner!

bermudaonion said...

You've really got me curious! I love the cover too.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This book came to me highly recommended this summer. I do plan to get to it in 2010. Thanks for the amazing review.

Eva said...

GORGEOUS cover! and great review! It's on my TBR list now. :)

Megan said...

Ooh, you've piqued my curiosity! I think this will be one for the wish list, and the cover *is* so pretty!

Les said...

Once again, you've added another title to my book club recommendations list. Thanks, Tara!

Tara said...

Staci, hehe! It's a good read, but it takes it time, if you know what I mean. Sort of when you're reading along and then think - wait! - did that just say what I think it did??

Kathy, it's a good read.

Diane, that's good to know! I hope you enjoy it.

Eva, yes it is! Hope you like it.

Megan, it was totally not what I was expecting, I can tell you that!

Les, Oh good. This is the sort of book that you go back to the first chapter after you've finished and see what you missed, now that everyone's history is clear.

Lesley said...

I've had this one on my wishlist but now I really want to read it!

Anonymous said...

Ooo, sounds wonderful. Actually it sounds like a perfect book for my family's winter camping trip. Last time we went camping, I had Forever Amber, and that was v. shocking - this sounds a smidge less shocking but a good bit less silly too!

Tara said...

Lesley, I hope that you do!

Jennysbooks, I think that Forever Amber does sound silly! You are right, this is not at all a silly book.

Bybee said...

I purposely skimmed your review, but caught that it was published in 1962. I'm sold!